A well-edited video can increase your view count many times over. Knowing how to at least crop a video to adhere to the platform’s video dimension requirement is one of the most basic things that you can do for your audience. Even if you’re only going to show the video to your friends and family, getting rid of unnecessary bits in the frame with a simple crop is more than just an aesthetic choice – it shows your professionalism.
Fortunately, Windows offers a few basic video editing tools that can get the job done for free. If you require more than a basic setup, there are some third-party applications too, both free and paid. In this article, we cover all these methods and clarify a few things about video cropping on the whole.
What is the difference between cropping and trimming?
Cropping and trimming are two terms that are often misunderstood by beginners. But there’s a mighty difference between the two.
Cropping is a technique that takes out parts of a video within the frame. Nowadays, most cropping tools will be able to do much more than that, such as changing the orientation (landscape or portrait) and the framing (aspect ratio). But cropping means only deleting bits in the video that you don’t want.
On the other hand, trimming shortens the video by shaving off the length of the clip. This helps to keep only the important bits of the video and cut out the unnecessary parts.
In essence, both cropping and trimming cut a video. But cropping cuts out whatever’s within the frame, while trimming cuts the length of the video.
When do you need to crop a video?
It’s very rarely the case, even with professional videographers that their filmed videos are perfect as is. A little touch-up here and there is almost inevitable. If you need to zoom in on a subject, cut out unnecessary space in the frame, or ensure that the video fits perfectly when viewed on a social media platform, a cropping tool is required.
Say you filmed a subject but ended up having a lot of room on one side that had a lot of clutter. Or you filmed from too far away, and need to close in on the subject a little. All these things can be fixed with a simple video crop.
But, as mentioned earlier, aesthetics is not the only reason for video cropping. Sometimes, it’s a matter of adhering to the video requirements of the platform you’re posting on.
Different social media platforms have different video dimension requirements. Some prefer portrait videos, others landscapes, and even within these extremes, the exact dimensions may vary depending on the platform.
Here are the aspect ratios for the different social media channels:
- Instagram – For square feed videos – 1:1; for vertical feed videos – 4:5; for landscape feed videos – 16:9. For Instagram reels and stories – 9:16.
- Youtube – Standard aspect ratio for horizontal videos is 16:9. For YouTube shorts, it is 9:16.
- TikTok – Vertical aspect ratio of 9:16. Horizontal (16:9) and square (1:1) videos are also acceptable.
- Facebook – The landscape aspect ratio is 16:9. In-feed portraits are 4:5 and 1:1 (square).
This is important to know because if your videos are not in the aspect ratio as required on a platform, you run the risk of getting your video cropped for you. This can happen if you have a widescreen video that you want to post in portrait mode, such as a reel. So make sure you adhere to the framing requirements set by the platform.
How to crop a video on Windows 11
Now that you know why you should crop your videos, and the aspect ratio requirements of different platforms, let’s take a look at how to crop your videos on Windows 11.
Method 1: Using Windows Video Editor (legacy Photos app)
Starting off with the native Windows choice, the Windows Video Editor is a fast and easy-to-use editor that can crop your videos in a cinch. Here’s how:
Press Start, and type video editor. You may see “Clipchamp” as the best match option. This is because Microsoft is heavily pushing Clpchamp as the default video editing tool on Windows. And though it is quite useful, we will get to it later.
Click on “Video Editor” to open it.
You will notice that the Photos app opens up. This is because the video editor used to be part of it. We say ‘used to be’ because that is not the case now. You will not find the video editor tool within the Photos app anymore, by default at least.
So, to use the Windows Video Editor, we will have to download the legacy Photos app. As soon as the Photos app opens, you will see the option to Get Photos Legacy app. Click on it.
If you don’t see this pop-up box, open the Microsoft store and search for the “Photos Legacy” app.
Click on Get.
Once installed, click on Open.
Now, click on Video Editor in the toolbar above.
If you see a pop-up message asking you to switch to Clipchamp, simply click on Maybe later.
Now click on New video project.
Give the video project a name and click OK (or click on “Skip” to skip naming).
Click on the + Add button.
Select From this PC.
Select your video and click Open.
Now, drag the video from the project library to the storyline at the bottom.
Here, you will be able to remove the black bars that are sometimes applied by default when the video is automatically adjusted by the video editor. To do so, click on the three-dot menu towards the bottom right.
Then select Remove black bars.
Now, on to cropping. The video editor tool allows you to crop your video in four different aspect ratios – 16:9 and 4:3 (landscapes), and 9:16 and 3:4 (portraits).
Here’s how to crop into them. Click on the three-dot menu towards the top-right corner.
Hover over the current aspect ratio and then select the other aspect ratio in the same orientation. In our case, we are already on 16:9 and are selecting 4:3.
To change orientation, click on the three-dot icon again, hover over the current aspect ratio, and select the last option – Make portrait.
If you’re already on portrait, you will see the option “Make landscape”.
To choose another aspect ratio, follow the same steps as above and choose your desired aspect ratio.
Once you’re satisfied, click on Finish video.
Then click on Export.
Choose a location to export the video to, and click Export.
Method 2: With PowerPoint
Surprise, surprise! Even Microsoft Office apps like PowerPoint can be used to crop videos as well. Since the slides can be converted and exported as a video, any video within it will make be a part of it as well. And PowerPoint provides the option of cropping that video too. Here’s how you can make use of it:
Press Start, type PowerPoint, and open it.
Click on Blank Presentation.
Hop over to the Insert tab.
Click on Video.
Select Video on My PC…
Locate your video and click on Insert.
Once your video is inserted, click on Crop in the top right corner.
This will highlight your video and introduce crop handles on all sides. Use these to crop your video as you see fit.
Once done, click on Crop again to confirm.
Now, stretch your video to cover up the whole slide.
The reason for doing this, as mentioned earlier, is that it is the slide that will be exported as a video, and not the video itself. So, you will have to make sure that there is only one slide in this presentation, no more, and that the cropped video is covering it up
After covering the slide with the video, click on File.
Choose your video quality.
Then click on Create Video.
Besides providing very limited options for cropping, PowerPoint is also the slowest among all methods in this guide when it comes to exporting cropped files. Nevertheless, if this proves useful to you, go ahead with it.
Method 3: Using Clipchamp
Now, let’s see about Climchamp – Microsoft’s latest video editing tool. After an unsuccessful run with Windows Movie Maker and the video editor in the (now legacy) Photos app, Clipchamp has now become Windows native video editing tool. Here’s how to use it to crop a video:
Open Clipchamp from the Start menu.
Click on Create a new video.
Click on Import media.
Select your video, then click Open.
Once it’s imported, drag it and drop it in the story timeline.
With the video selected, click on the crop icon in the toolbar (towards the left of the preview video).
Use the handles at the corners and the sides to crop the video.
Then click on the tick in the toolbar.
Then stretch the cropped video to fit the frame, and drag it to realign towards the center.
You can also select from different aspect ratios. Click on the current aspect ratio towards the top-right corner of the preview video to reveal additional options.
Choose one that fits the bill.
Quick tip: If the selected frame introduces borders, you can use the corner handles to cover them up or expand the video to go beyond the frame, thereby cropping the video further.
Once you’re done, click on Export.
Select the video quality.
Then wait for the video to be saved.
You can also share this video with a link by clicking on Copy link and then sharing it with others.
Or save or upload straight to one of the sites (you will have to connect to that service first).
Method 4: Using VLC
We have now used up all native ways to crop a video. From now on, all the methods mentioned in this guide are via third-party applications. Some are online, some are paid programs, and the rest like VLC, are free.
Click on the following link to open VLC’s website, then click on Download.
Install it using the on-screen prompts and then launch it.
VLC provides a couple of crop options for videos – either to crop temporarily or to crop permanently. The former can come in handy if you want to crop a video just for your current viewing purposes. But if you want to crop for good, that option is also there.
Cropping videos with VLC (for viewing only)
Click on Media, then select Open file.
Select your file and click Open.
Once imported, click on Tools.
Then select Effects and Filters.
Jump over to the Video Effects tab.
Click on Crop.
Here, enter how many pixels you want to crop out of the video from the sides.
The video will crop in real time so you can experiment with how many pixels you type.
You can also make sure that the top-bottom and/or left-right sides are synchronized.
By checking these boxes, you will only have to type for the horizontal and vertical crops once each.
Once done, click on Close, and continue watching.
Cropping videos with VLC (permanently)
If you want to crop the video permanently and be able to save it, here’s what to do:
Click on Tools, then select Preferences.
Now, at the extreme bottom, under “Show settings”, click All.
Scroll down on the left and under Video, click on the Filters branch to expand it.
Then click on Croppadd.
Here, you will be able to crop pixels by entering a number in the fields.
Once done, click on Save.
Method 5: Using Adobe Premiere Pro
Now, we’re getting into paid third-party application territory. These are quite advanced in that the cropping feature is only one of the many editing options they provide.
The first one we’re looking at in this guide is the world-renowned Adobe Premiere Pro. It costs about $21 per month for individuals, so if you were looking for a good overall video editing tool replete with features, this is a good investment.
Open Adobe Premiere Pro and select New > Project under “Create”.
Give the project a name while keeping the default settings. Then click OK.
Then drag your file and copy it into the “Source” area under the “Editing” tab.
Now drag this file to the timeline.
Once your video is added to the timeline, make sure it is selected. Then click on the Effects tab at the top.
On the left, you will see another section called “Effects”. Under it, expand the Video Effects folder.
Then expand Transform.
Here, you will see a Crop effect.
Drag this over to the video in the timeline.
Once the crop effect is added, click on the Effect Controls tab.
Within it, you will see the “Crop” branch, under which you can crop areas on the Left, Top, Right, and Bottom.
All you have to do is expand an area branch, then use the slider to crop that part of the video.
Do the same if you want to crop from multiple sides.
If you cropped it in a way that the video doesn’t take centerstage, here’s how you can change its positioning. Under the same “Effect Controls” tab, expand the Motion branch.
Next to the “Position” option, you will see two numbers. The first one determines the position of the video on the horizontal axis and the second number on the vertical axis.
Click on the numbers to change them, and change the position of the video.
Note: Experiment with the numbers until you have the position set to your liking.
Another optional thing that you can do here is to zoom in on the video. For this, click on the number next to Scale.
Then increase its value.
Once done, click on the video in the timeline to select it. Then click on File in the topmost toolbar.
Then select Export and then Media.
You can choose to make changes in the “Export settings” window. Alternatively, simply click on Export to finish.
Your video is now cropped and saved.
Method 6: With Online tools
There are a number of online video cropping tools that require no subscription or downloads. A simple google search will yield a few results. For our guide, we are using the aptly titled Online Video Cropper.
Follow the link and click on Open file.
Select your file and click Open.
Use the frame handles to crop your video.
If you want, you can also change the aspect ratio.
Otherwise, once you’re done click on Save.
Then click on Save again.
Although cropping a video is a fairly simple idea, there are a number of variables around it, especially on Windows. Here, we answer a few commonly asked questions about it.
Does Windows 11 include a video editor?
Windows 11 has a new video editing tool called Clipchamp that can be used for a variety of things, including cropping videos.
How do I crop an MP4 video in Windows?
Most of the methods shown in this guide can crop an MP4 video in Windows. Refer to the guide above to know how to make use of them.
How to crop video in Windows media player?
Unfortunately, the Windows Media Player of old cannot be used to crop a video on Windows 11. Instead, you can use either the Photos legacy app or Clipchamp.
We hope this guide helped you to know all the various ways that you can crop a video on Windows 11. For most cases, the native tools can get the job done. But if you’re looking for a complete package, some third-party applications may be up your alley. Happy cropping!